This one gets its own review because it really affected me. Up front warning: this book is not cheerful. I promise to get back to holiday joy in my next post!
Room, Emma Donoghue
In Emma Donoghue's second novel, Room, the author shows once again that she is not afraid to dive headfirst into truly awful situations and turn them inside out. Room is a story told by Jack, a 5 year old who lives in Room with his Ma and his friends Bed, Duvet, and Wardrobe. As far as Jack knows, everything outside of Room is Outer Space and everything on tv is not real. When I say everything, I mean everything...rain, dentists, even other people. This is because Jack's mother was abducted before his birth and has been held prisoner in an 11'x11' room for the past seven years. As circumstances with their captor change, Ma realizes that it is time to try to escape if she and Jack are going to survive. But how do you explain escape to someone who doesn't understand there is a world to escape to?
Telling the story from Jack's point of view makes the story easier to read but also strips away much of the convention we associate with these types of situations. There is very little graphic violence or external input. What is left is an emotional tale that forces you to re-evaluate everything you think you know about the world and how you interact with other people. I knew going in that reading this would be difficult for me, but I'm glad I picked it up anyway. I was utterly absorbed from start to finish. This is not to minimize how disturbing and painful the book is at times, because it is both. However, it also brings a fresh, innocent perspective to a cynical situation.
I would cautiously recommend Room to those who think they could handle it. If nothing else it will force you to sit back, take a deep breath, and think.